Artist Jon Rafman, the guy behind 9-Eyes.com—the accidental art Tumblr that collates arresting images culled from Google Street View—recently released the above video. It’s a celebratory and meditative look at the fighting genre of gaming, made in memory of NYC’s famed Chinatown Fair arcade, which closed down on 28th February 2011, to much lamentation.
Using a voiceover, machinima and documentary footage, Rafman’s pining ode looks at the lost days of his formative years spent standing in front of video game booths around New York’s arcades, frantically manipulating joysticks and buttons to beat his digital (and human) opponents in a quest for ultimate glory: his name atop the high score list.
The film has a melancholy but heartfelt tone, reflectively looking at those times when man and machine were like two inseparable childhood best buddies—with a soundtrack that could’ve been composed by Vangelis to add to the mystique. A place and time when childhood heroes were Tetris masters, and the life of a top end video game player seems strangely sad, where accomplishments that were held so highly in the mind of the kids are irrelevant in the adult world.
If you played video arcades as a kid, pumping coinage into Street Fighter II, Ghouls n’ Ghosts, Pac-Man, and all the rest, you’ll feel a pang of nostalgia and waves of sadness as you watch this.